Technology has accelerated the ability to have a super energy-efficient home. Here are seven must-have ways to slash your usage and cost.
- Cool roofing. The roof takes the brunt of the sun’s energy and absorbs heat, affecting the cooling of the whole house. Light colored roof shingles were introduced to help mitigate that heat, but now “cool roofs” offer dark colored shingles that reflect the sun’s heat. The Certainteed company offers two lines of these heat-reflecting shingles.
- Radiant Barrier. A radiant barrier is a reflective coating on the underside of the roof decking. It has a plywood sheet with a shiny metallic side that faces into the attic. The house still needs to have proper R-19 or better insulation in the attic floor. A radiant barrier under these conditions can deliver 16 percent to 42 percent heat reduction over no barrier, which would translate to a 15 percent to 25 percent reduction in energy bills.
- Thermal wrap. Thermal wrap is installed on the outside of the frame of the house to keep the home’s heating or cooling inside. There are different wraps for different types of exterior siding. Some consist of a flexible sheet of plastic while others are a combination of thermal wrap attached to wall board. The wrap is attached to the frame and then the exterior siding or masonry is installed. The thermal wrap also provides a moisture barrier to protect the interior of the walls from water and mold damage. Today’s thermal wraps provide an R5 insulating protection.
- Low E windows. Double-paned glass has now been surpassed by triple pane, adding another insulating barrier to windows. Low E coated glass allows maximum light in while keeping hot summer infrared wavelengths and damaging ultraviolet rays out.
- High-efficiency heating and air conditioning. Heating and air units manufactured in the last five years are far more efficient than previous models, using far less electricity or gas. Examples include new technologies designed to manage the heating and cooling in ratio with humidity levels, multi-speed fans, and improved refrigerant valves.
- Smart thermostats. The latest generation of smart thermostats such as Nest and iComfort put fine tuned control in your hand through your phone. These smart systems measure outside temperature to calibrate internally, learn and anticipate your choices and sense from your phone’s location when you are nearing home, adjusting temperatures as needed.
- Water heater. Heating water for your home is second only to heating and air in energy use. Tank water heaters are more efficient than the past, but still generate “standby heat loss,” meaning that it must be heated continually to ensure hot water on demand. Tankless heaters do not store water, but flash heat it on demand.